Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman star in Sebastian Silva's half-baked drug movie
The central event of this film involves the main character Jamie (Michael Cera) chopping up the ‘magical’ San Pedro cactus of the title, mixing it into a mushy swill, then cooking it in a pot for nine hours, in hopes of a legendary high from the resulting drink. This scenario offers a reasonable metaphor for the film itself: it is essentially a mushy swill of ideas and characters thrown together by writer/director Sebastian Silva (The Maid) and left to marinade in a decidedly flavourless story. Alas, just as the characters in the film fail to find the legendary high, so Silva fails to cook up anything more than unfulfilled potential in this half-baked movie.
The ingredients are promising: on the eve of a South American road-trip to find and imbibe the aforementioned cactus, Jamie goes to a party, takes a pile of drugs and inadvertently invites eccentric earth-mother Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman) to join him and his friends on the trip. But as soon as they get in a car together Jamie’s difficult, arrogant, know-it-all personality clashes with Crystal’s near-parodic spiritual babbling, and a passive-aggressive battle for supremacy begins.
The main problem with Silva’s shoestring budgeted film is that it lacks any sense of unity; there are some effectively creepy moments, an oddly surreal post drug-taking scene and a few funny bits, but they don’t connect into a meaningful story. The cumulative effect is negligible, and the film could comfortably end at any point in its final 30 minutes and have exactly the same impact as the actual ending.
Selected release from Fri 17 Jan.